“A lot of people out there are pretty upset about this,” Leape said. “So much of what goes on in Washington is choreographed, and I've never paid much attention to it, frankly. But I think it's outrageous that he's not having hearings—after which, Republicans can vote however they want.”
The letter was sent March 16 to the president, Baucus, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and to William Daley, Obama's chief of staff.
“Your outstanding nominee to lead CMS, Dr. Donald Berwick, is trapped in the partisan battle over health reform,” the letter stated. “Misleading statements and untruths about his remarkable record have replaced a legitimate exploration of differences that can emerge during an open public hearing.”
The letter adds that “No one is as well prepared as Dr. Berwick to help you and the nation move forward to make healthcare safer, more effective, more responsive, and more efficient for us all.”
Individuals who signed the letter include Leape; Dr. Denis Cortese, former president and CEO of the Mayo Clinic; Dr. Gary Kaplan, chairman and CEO of the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle; Diane Pinakiewicz, president of the National Patient Safety Foundation; and Dr. Robert Wachter, the University of California San Francisco Medical Center's division of hospital medicine chief. Organizations that signed on include Virginia Mason, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Osteopathic Association.
“It was really a matter of getting people whose names we thought would be listened to,” Leape said.
Meanwhile, Leape said he expects Berwick to stay at the CMS into December.
“My understanding is that he has no intention of leaving and they have no intention of asking him to leave,” Leape said. “He's going full speed ahead, and has really energized the agency.”